interview with o-week folk-pop performers parkville

Author: Tina Tsironis

Swinburne students won’t be enjoying a regular O-Week anytime soon – that much is clear. But thanks to the beauty of Zoom and social media, events we would normally attend face-to-face will next week be streamed directly to our living rooms.

One such event, a live-streamed show by folk-pop band Parkville, is one of the SSU’s most anticipated virtual O-Week activities. When you listen to the wistful yet majestic sounds of guitarist Liam Bell, pianist Michael D’Emilio and violinist Dylan Knur, it’s not difficult to understand why.

SWINE Editor Tina Tsironis spoke to Parkville ahead of their July 27 O-Week performance, talking musical influences, the challenges of working as an artist amidst COVID-19, and the emotionally taxing nature of writing and recording music.

T: How did Parkville initially form?

Parkville: The three of us went to school together in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. We were in different years, but we met because we were all involved in the music theatre shows at the school. After Dylan graduated, we had a few jams to keep in touch, and then we just… never stopped, and now it’s almost six years later and we’re still playing!

T: How have you found performing to an audience who isn’t standing directly in front of you, in the wake of COVID-19 and its associated lockdowns?

Parkville: It feels much more like we’re just in our rehearsals – even though there is an audience on the other side of the screen, we can’t see them so it feels like a low-pressure situation where we can relax and enjoy the experience. I think this means our livestream viewers are getting more of a look into how we are when we’re just being ourselves and having fun.

T: What other roadblocks has the pandemic presented to you, especially as live performers?

Parkville: A lot of musicians, as well other kinds of artists, are struggling at this time – being an artist often means living on a very low income, which makes artists especially vulnerable in times of economic turmoil. I encourage you all to, if you have the means, support your favourite artists of all kinds financially by purchasing from their online stores, subscribing to their Patreons or spreading the word about their art.

T: Your lyrics are so poignant and emotionally raw – and this is a compliment! To what extent does the process of writing, recording and performing a song fulfil a therapeutic function for you all?

Dylan: I can’t speak for Liam, the other songwriter of the band, but I find that I often discover how I feel about something as I’m writing about it. That said, sometimes the process of writing and recording is incredibly frustrating and demoralising and is the reason I need to take therapeutic measures in the first place! So, there’s a kind of back and forth to the role that being creative plays in my life.

T: What kind of musicians, or artists in general, is Parkville inspired by?

Parkville: Lots of them! Liam grew up listening to a lot of Motown and older pop music like Stevie Wonder, Dylan got very into alternative rock bands like Radiohead when he was younger, and Michael listens to a lot of Hans Zimmer film scores. Recently, though, the three of us have all been really influenced by the Punch Brothers, a contemporary bluegrass band who’ve really impressed us all with their ingenuity and attention to texture.

T: Did you engage in the arts at all, as university students? Can you tell us how immersing yourself in music, or other creative fields, may have enriched your university experience?

Dylan: I did a degree in jazz music, so my entire university experience was art! It was amazing to study these theoretical music constructs and work hard to develop technical ability during the day, and then go to see live music at night and be in awe of the amount of incredible musicians that call Melbourne their home. Watching live music was a strong motivator, reminding me of what I was working towards.

RSVP to Parkville’s show here.

More information on Parkville is available via their Facebook page.

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“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” –– Angela Davis

Resources that will help you imagine a world without police.

Author: Jessica Murdoch

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THIS!!!! Probably one of the most realest statements ever. We often ask people to imagine a world without crime or violence, and people immediately respond, “that’s impossible… that will never happen.” Peoples’ imaginations are so limited by their realties that they are unable to imagine a better world. To all the Youth, never take NO for an answer. Keep imagining and keep fighting for a just society! ✊🏽 ••• “The goal of oppressors is to limit your imagination about what is possible without them, so you might never imagine more for yourself & the world you live in. Imagine something better. Get curious about what it actually takes to make it happen. Then fight for it every day.” – @smashfizzle

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There are a lot of people asking us to imagine a different world right now. It may seem kind of scary. Or confusing. And I bet you’re seeing a lot of words that are new to you, with a lot of conflicting definitions and explanations.

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🙂 #defundthepolice

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I have seen so many different explanations about what “defund” and “abolish” and “disband” mean. Out in the wild (and by that, I mean on social media) they seem to be used interchangeably, or with a lack of understanding about what they really refer to – particularly when they are being criticised.

Even people in good faith may have differing ideas.

That’s why it helps to read widely and broadly. Yes, this includes source material – not just interpretations of this material written into an easily digestible graphic (even though they can be a helpful starting point).

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RESOURCES: link in bio – ACTION: link in bio to divest in police and invest in black communities. ty @mvmnt4blklives – I appreciate the folks who have let me know that my use of “Black bodies” in the 6th slide can be harmful and I apologize for that. While using that language to highlight the state’s dehumanization of Black people, I understand that I must do better in choosing my words when describing experiences that aren’t my own. – I’m currently receiving 1000’s of notifications a day from this post so I ask for understanding if it takes me a minute to get back to you in my DMs or I miss a message all together. – thx @glenfeezy and @mickmagger for the second set of eyes 👀🙏👀 – I’m staying out of the comments, gotta make space for my life offline. Take this opportunity to do your own research (link in bioooo) if you have questions on content or concepts. Please use this comment thread as an opportunity to practice compassion, especially for BIPOC folks. Stop, Observe, Care, Act 💜☮️💜 I’m not naive, I’ve been online, but it doesn’t hurt to ask 🙃 – Please repost at will, I don’t care if I’m credited, but please have sources on hand. #blacklivesmatter #defundthepolice #actionrecipe

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If I’m honest, trying to explain these issues is not what this piece is about. I’m not going to unpack the issues underscoring this topic, such as the history of police, police violence or transformative justice. Nor am I going to clarify how these narratives apply to the current #BlackLivesMatter movements around the world. That is being done regularly and much more effectively by many knowledgeable folks all over the internet (like the examples throughout this piece).

I am not an expert. I am just a person who is listening to so many people saying the system is broken, that it has been broken for a very long time.

This piece is for those of you who see that there is something not right with the current system, but at this stage, may not see how there can be any other options. Or perhaps, for those who can’t see how alternative options could possibly be implemented.

Honestly, that’s mostly where I am.

I can see that we have a problem, but I’m not sure that I understand how we’re going to go about fixing it.

If you are already vehemently opposed to the idea of defunding the police, this piece may not persuade you that we should be doing otherwise. I still encourage you to check out some of these resources, to make sure that you really understand what people are fighting for. This is simply a collection of resources I amworking through, in order to get my head around these ideas. If you are somewhere along the same path as me, this collection might be of use to you too.

I must note that as a white person, it’s really important for me to be careful and considered in the way I post about this type of political action. Bumbling into a conversation that we might be brand new to, and assuming we automatically have something original or useful to share is a trap. I certainly don’t want to place my voice at the centre of this conversation.

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**Edit: In place of sharing/following my account, please amplify the work of Black anti-racist educators. The best people to share about anti-racism work will always be those who have been directly oppressed by racism. You can find a list of incredible folx on the last slide, on top of countless others you will encounter through engaging in this work. I am complicit. I made the choice to include a white author’s quote in this post rather than amplify the words of Black leaders speaking from lived experience. This is a prime example of centering whiteness. I will work harder to center Black voices moving forward.** . . . I’ve had a number of conversations with white friends recently about the role of social media and whether it is helpful or hurtful to post about racism right now. I fear my whiteness and privilege will cloud my judgment. I fear centering my own whiteness. I fear getting things wrong. But I also know that sitting in my own fear is doing nothing to confront systemic racism. It continues the cycle of prioritizing my own white comfort over the life-and-death realities facing Black Americans and communities of colors. Here is my current understanding of my role as a white woman when posting to social media: 1. My silence and the silence of other white Americans is deafening. It is more important to speak out than to say nothing at all 2. Only speaking out online while taking no other actions is core to the problem. It plays a role in why “progressive” white women are one of the largest barriers to real change 3. If my words cause pain to Black individuals and other people of color, I will work like hell to learn, repair the damage and do better next time 4. If my words hurt white feelings, I am okay with that I am including a list of questions I ask myself as a white person before posting to social media. What would you add? Where did I miss the mark? . . . . #blacklivesmatter #whiteness #whitefragility #antiracist #amlearning #kidlit

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Mariame Kaba is the abolitionist whose work first brought me to the concepts of transformative and restorative justice. (Buy her books, do your own work.) It’s still difficult sometimes to imagine how it could work—no, to imagine WHEN it could work, when will those in power (who are armed to the teeth) will see the direct connections between underfunding things that keep people fed, housed, educated, healthy, happy—and the perceived necessity of murderous police, a “justice system” that isn’t actually just (and the systemic aspect merely chews people up and spits them out—if they’re lucky), and a brutal prison industrial complex that is slavery dressed up as something deserved. But since the demonstrations started, I’ve felt more hope that the WHEN will happen. It might not be today or tomorrow, but it will happen if we all keep working towards it. Sustained effort that recognizes individual limits is what will make it happen. Ask yourself Mariame’s questions, and really reflect on the consequences of your actions. (That last bit is a reminder to myself first and foremost; the outrage spirals have been at an all-time peak for me for weeks-months-years). #mariamekaba #transformativejustice #blacklivesmatter #abolishpolice #defundspd #defundALLcops

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Many of us already lead a life largely free of police presence. This is due to the privilege of being white and having no previous offences to our names.

For many others, the world is very strikingly different.

Defunding the police would mean money would be directed to community services that could get to the root of numerous problems.

Many people are harmed by the current system. Black people and other people of colour, members of the LGBTQI+ community, refugees, people who are homeless or experiencing mental illness, sex workers, disabled people, and women in general can all be members of groups that experience unequal treatment. The system functions to give many of us the illusion of safety. But at what cost?

It is actively harming and killing many people and simply not working for many more – instead, it is upholding harmful systems of oppression.

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non-Black people can’t let fictions of ‘safety’ predicated on anti-Black violence limit our demands or our imagining. the price for the ‘safety’ we are invoking, the safety of togay, is too high. . [[set of Tweets by Caleb: 1. Seeing too many other non-Black people invoke specters of 'safety' as a response to abolition. With an understanding that Black folks, along with the rest of us, are unsafe NOW, we need to understand that the 'safety' we feel is predicated on a genocide of our Black relatives. 2. This is a price too high to pay for fantasies of safety, ESPECIALLY when anti-Black violence is carried out PRECISELY FOR our imagined 'safety'. Black liberation requires us to give up a lot BECAUSE so much of our 'safety,' among other affects, requires anti-Black violence. 3. We CAN'T need to be safe. We need to be brave, risky, creative &, above all, act & dream from a place of love and collective liberation, rather than a colonized & white supremacist fantasy of 'safety,' that too often means the murder & caging of our Black and Indigenous relatives]]

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Police may provide me with the perception that I’m safer, but is that truly more important than the active harm others are subjected to? Additionally, do the current systems actually keep us safe in the way we perceive? One of the most common arguments against police defunding is what about the murderers and rapists?

Professor Alex Vitale has spoken about how policing has become so integrated into the rest of our lives, and why he believes reforming the police systems are not enough to make change.

In an interview, when asked about serial rapists and murderers, his response is pretty straight-forward. “Of course I’m worried [about serial rapists and murderers]. That’s the whole point of this movement. We’re worried that we’re not doing a good job of catching murderers and rapists now. We need something that’s better.

Vitale acknowledges that we may not know exactly what these strategies will look like. But looking at the root of the causes of this behaviour and committing to early intervention would a be much more effective way of with dealing with issues – especially those that stem from mental health crises and domestic violence cases. “Using guns and tasers is not the only way to deal with someone who is acting out. Often when we introduce someone with a badge and gun, we further destabilise the situation.”

In the same interview, Kimberly Foster points out that in domestic violence situations, victims often try to follow the correct procedures, but cannot be kept safe. “Police don’t prevent violence. It might postpone violence. It might postpone harm, but it is not really meaningfully intervening in the cycle that causes people to be killed.”

I don’t have all the answers for a better way. But I do believe they are out there. The fact is, the current system is actively harming and killing too many, and that’s reason enough for us to be actively looking for a better alternative. I want people to reach a place where they can acknowledge the current system is not working, and accept that not only is something better possible, but that people have already started to formulate these alternative ideas.

Just-cos-this-is-how-its-always-been isn’t a valid reason to uphold oppressive, harmful systems. Once, not so long ago, slaveholders believed the status quo was right. Lawmakers wouldn’t allow women or people of colour to vote. Different sexual and gender identities were, and largely still are, marginalised. All of these systems were created as ideas and they can, and have been, dismantled.

Many of us hear “abolish the police” and seem to think this is a new idea. The truth is, this is not a new concept. People have been researching and theorising alternatives to these current systems for a long time.

What it could look like:

“Abolition means not just the closing of prisons but the presence, instead, of vital systems of support that many communities lack.” —Ruth Wilson Gilmore. / via @mpd_150

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Here's something a little different for Friday. I've been studying, writing about, and practicing transformative justice for years. After a year of writing weekly photo essays, almost a third of them are about accountability. The idea of writing another one during this encouraging and overwhelming month was really challenging to me. So, to help keep my morale up, I decided to write about police and prisons in past tense, as if they had already been abolished. Political non fiction is a heavy practice, so It was refreshing to lean into the imagination that abolition requires. I'm still studying, learning from other abolitionists, and researching other community strategies to help me understand what comes next. More writings on abolition are coming next month. Until then, hopefully this piece gives you a morale boost as you navigate this flexible and changing moment. I have a special announcement coming later today! 💫💖💫💙💫💜💫 [ID in alt text] #SpeculativePolitics #PrisonAbolition #PoliceAbolition #TransformativeJustice #RestorativeJustice #DisabilityJustice #BlackTransLivesMatter #AfroFuturism #Anarchism #Interdependence #HarmonizersNotLeaders #CollectiveCare #EstelleEllison #AbolishTime

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I'm not asking you to agree with me. I just want to walk you through my thinking. Like you, I was hearing a ton about #defundthepolice and #abolishthepolice over the last two weeks, and I got curious so I started reading. . I knew our police system had serious problems. I believed people when they told me about their awful encounters with law enforcement. I was fully in favor of major reforms. But it had never occured to me to question whether or not we need policing at all. I thought it was just a given; I never considered questioning that assumption. . I feel dumb about that, because once I started looking into the thinking behind those hashtags, I realized that community safety and crime prevention can come in MUCH healthier and more effective forms than we currently have. Why would I simply assume, for all these years, that having traumatic encounters with the police was just the way it is; just a part of life? . Anyway, I wrote a Twitter thread talking about this and shared it in my Stories (I also saved it in a highlight called Defund+Abolish), but several people asked me to put it in an IG post too, so that they could share it to their own stories. So that’s what this is. Swipe left to read it. . If you'd rather read the thread on Twitter (it includes lots of helpful reference links), you can find the thread link via my profile, or you can also see the thread as a blog post on #DesignMom. So, lots of options! Have you done any reading about what it could look like to defund the police and use those funds for things like housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, and funding education? Have you gone on a bit of a journey like I have? Or do you favor smaller reforms? https://twitter.com/designmom/status/1270038204754919424?s=20

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I don’t think we should dismiss something because we don’t understand it, if we haven’t actually engaged with it on a deeper level.

We should be asking questions – not in search of disingenuous gotchas, but due to a genuine willingness to engage with, think about, and consider other possibilities.

Charlene Carruthers, in conversation with Kimberly Foster, talks about how important conversations are for those who are genuinely curious and interested, rather than asking questions to just be adversarial. She says, “we have a duty to come at it in a way that’s not condescending.”

In the same conversation, Derecka Purnell acknowledges the huge shift many of us will need to make. She says recognising and affirming people’s entry points to this conversation is essential – that a lot of what we believe about what is ‘natural’ has been socialised into us. “Everything we’ve been sold on, being interwoven into this American project, we have to start calling into question.” She recognises the need to push ourselves to think differently, pointing to her own experience of feeling overwhelmed by the politics around climate change, until she did the research. “When people hear police abolition and they think ‘oh my god it’s so overwhelming’, I have felt like that about climate change. Until I read a book.

Reading through the comments on this video, there’s a fair amount of “…they’re not answering the questions!”; “I still don’t see what the alternative is supposed to be!”; “There’s no clear steps to what we have to do!” But I think they are all missing the point. I think this conversation is an example of these women talking through their ideas. They are demonstrating that there are no easy solutions, that this is an ongoing discovery of new ideas.

In another video in this series, Dr Brittney Cooper demonstrates that she is still working her way towards understanding abolition, and explicitly says, “I don’t like claiming positions that I haven’t worked my way through yet.”

As Kimberly identifies, the question of whether any of this is possible, is a big road block for many. Derecka points out that there are risks that will need to be taken and that it will take imagination and will.

I believe that if you’re looking for a simple answer, you’re not engaging effectively. People are talking about a complete change of a system here – there are no simple answers. We’re trying to shift entire mindsets as to how our whole world functions. This takes openness, and a willingness to work towards a different way of being – one that is unfamiliar for many of us.

The whole point of this conversation is to recognise there IS a problem and to be open to imagining alternatives. We’re so used to expecting a quick fix. A sound bite. An easy to digest idea. But these are not easy concepts. These are century old issues. They are complex and nuanced. We need to seek out the people who have been having these conversations, put our ego to the side and listen for a while.

If you’re not willing to go out and do the work of researching and deep learning? You probably aren’t ready to have this conversation.

We need to be willing to actively do the work.

Bookmark these links and resources.

Today, maybe start by checking out these introductions. Seek out and follow some of these people on social media. Listen. Read.

When you want to learn more, check out some of the longer articles and video resources.

If you still have more questions? Great! Check out the some of the books listed in these resources.

Changing the world is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself.

I want to reiterate that it is vital to be centering Black voices (especially Black women), within my research on these topics. Most of the work and resources I’ve collected here reflect that.

If this is something that you believe is important, if you really do believe that Black lives matter, the very least we can do is read, watch and listen to what has been put out into the world for us already. Many people have put in the work to create these resources, but we can’t expect to be spoon-fed everything.

People: 

Kimberly Foster (whose voice on a whole range of concepts and ideas are worth listening to) has been doing an excellent series of videos where she is exploring a range of these ideas. Within these videos, she brings in a range of people who have been doing the work around this area for a long time – some more than 35 years!)

 

Writers, activists, academics who featured in the videos I quoted:

Dr. Brittney Cooper

Derecka Purnell 

Charlene Carruthers 

Professor Alex Vitale (his book is currently available for free download)

Mariame Kaba

Towards the horizon of abolition: A conversation with Mariame Kaba

Professor Angela Davis

Angela Davis breaks down what “defund the police” means (video)

9 Essential Angela Davis Books to Add to Your Shelf

Professor Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Is Prison Necessary?

Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California

Further reading and resources:

Reformist reforms vs. abolitionist steps in policing

MPD150 Resource Page

Reading Towards Abolition: A Reading List on Policing, Rebellion, and the Criminalization of Blackness

Towards the horizon of abolition: A conversation with Mariame Kaba

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I'm sure you've seen a ton of these floating around at this point, but I wanted to specifically speak to some of the literature that's available to us from writers, thinkers, and scholars of color! #abolition ⁣ ⁣ 𝘏𝘦𝘭𝘱 𝘮𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘶𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘦𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦!⁣ Venmo: @𝐀𝐥𝐞𝐱-𝗪𝐞𝐛𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫⁣⁣ Cashapp: $𝐥𝐞𝐱𝐢𝐜𝐨𝐧𝟗𝟏⁣ ⁣⁣ Image description: Slide 1:⁣⁣⁣ Abolition 101: A POC guide for beginners⁣ ⁣ Here's a non-exhaustive list of entry-level works by abolitionist writers and thinkers of color. Enjoy!⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 2:⁣⁣⁣ #1 Are Prisons Obsolete? Chapter 2 (by Angela Davis)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ In chapter 2 of Dr. Davis's seminal literature on prison abolition, she challenges us to stretch our political imagination and conceive of a world without cages.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here: bit.ly/prisons-obsolete⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 3:⁣⁣⁣ #2 The Police Can’t Solve the Problem. They Are the Problem. (by Derecka Purnell and Marbre Stahly-Butts)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ In this opinion piece for the NY Times, movement lawyers Purnell and Stahly-Butts raise the alarm about reformist solutions to an innately violent system.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here: bit.ly/police-problem⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 4:⁣⁣⁣ #3 Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police (by Mariame Kaba)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Amidst global Black liberation uprisings, renowned abolitionist activist Mariame Kaba pens this piece to demystify the abolitionist roots of calls to defund the police.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here: bit.ly/literally-abolish⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 5:⁣⁣⁣ #4 Ruth Wilson Gilmore Makes the Case for Abolition (Intercepted)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ In this episode of the Intercepted podcast, abolition scholar Ruth Wilson Gilmore delivers a master class on the expansive tendrils of the carceral state.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here: bit.ly/gilmore-intercepted⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 6:⁣⁣⁣ #5 Beyond Bars: Prison Abolition Should Be the American Dream (by Reina Sultan)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ #8toAbolition co-author Reina Sultan urges us to "dream bigger than criminalization and bondage" in this piece that synthesizes voices from abolitionist thought leaders.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here: bit.ly/abolition-dream⁣⁣⁣

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WE DO NOT NEED THEM @MPD_150 @urdoingreat

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A comprehensive collection of local resources: 

aus blm allies resource sharing doc

Path to Equality

The header image for this article was photographed by our regular contributor Rachel Lloyd-Owens, and taken at Melbourne’s June Black Lives Matter rally. 

 

 

university fee reforms will prevent students from realising their potential and succeeding in the workforce – here’s why

Author: Tina Tsironis

Recently, the federal government announced their plans to significantly increase the student contribution for numerous tertiary courses. To unpack the impact these reforms may have on the quality of life and career prospects of Australian students, I have drawn on the perspectives of a Year 12 student, an Arts student, and somebody situated somewhere in between: me; a postgraduate student currently working in my chosen field.

K, who wishes to remain anonymous, is concerned about what these reforms will mean for her when she transitions from Year 12 to university next year. “I am worried that the prices are being increased as a way of discouraging students from entering certain fields,” K, who is hoping to study Arts and Education, said. “This makes me feel nervous about whether an arts degree will help me in my career or if I will have to end up switching into a field with strong job prospects despite not being interested in it.”

While the student contribution for Arts degrees will go up, future students studying ‘job-ready’ courses, many of those in  STEM, will supposedly enjoy a reduction in their fees. But the government is not planning to make up for this reduction, nor for the 39,000 new places they have announced for these courses, with extra funding. Swinburne Senior Lecturer Dan Golding breaks this down on Twitter here.

While STEM degrees may be cheaper under these reforms, how can universities provide high quality education with less funding, and thousands upon thousands of new students? Students will inevitably experience a drop in their overall course quality. Academic who are already stretched thin will have to deliver their learning with less support, and significantly less resources. These job-ready graduates will be thrust into the ‘real world’ completely ill-equipped to succeed.

As students, we have experienced a drastically destabilised education following Swinburne’s shift to online class delivery over the last several months. In the wake of COVID-19, our usual classes have been thrust out of their usual contexts and wedged, often uncomfortably, into the online sphere. Without access to the physical resources or face-to-face learning environments that many courses demand, learning hasn’t been the same. Imagine having to experience this diminished quality of education for your entire degree? Unless we fight these reforms, our future peers and colleagues will have to live this reality for three to four years – or even more.

Media and Communications graduate and former SWINE editor Imogen Bailey told me that if she were heading to university now, the proposed fee reforms would likely impact her choice of degree. “If I’m honest, when I was starting my degree, I didn’t consider the cost of my course as I knew I would be taking out a HECS/HELP debt,” Bailey, who is now working as a journalist, explained. “Being asked this question though, it prompted me to look at how much I owe on my HECS/HELP debt and it’s more than I would’ve liked – about $21,000 following three years of indexation,” she added.

“If I were in the same position that I am now, living out of home, working full-time and paying for expenses and was looking to undertake a degree, the increased fees and associated debt would definitely make me second guess whether or not doing the degree would be worth it.”

While K said the Government’s plans will not impact her decision to study Arts/Education, as she has “been interested in this course for a long time,” she is now rethinking her other preferences. “I was also considering courses in social sciences, but due to the [proposed] fee increases, I have now started researching courses in health sciences.” she said.

“As I am really interested in social sciences and humanities, I think studying these areas will strongly add to my quality of life as it will allow me to work in a field that I am very passionate about, but I am fairly unsure about the job prospects in such fields.”

K’s uncertainty regarding her employability is not uncommon. After graduating from my BA/Honours in Media and Communications, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t worried about being stuck in a retail job that I didn’t enjoy for the rest of my life. How could I not be worried, when well-meaning but ridiculously irritating relatives tried to convince me that my degree was worth nothing in the real world, while the federal government itself, continued (continues, really) to display a blatant disregard for the creative arts and journalism sectors?

But my passion for writing and media; for curating stories that make people think or spur them to purchasing something or get out and vote or see some sort of niche issue in a new light, has provided me with nearly all the motivation I need to proceed throughout my Honours and Masters. Yet it is thanks to my wonderful tutors and lecturers, thorough course material, hugely relevant extracurricular activities and my incredibly rewarding and challenging tenure as SWINE editor, that I have been able to shape my creative skills and succeed this early on in my career.

COVID-19 has been tough, and often incredibly demotivating, for many of us – students and workers alike. But without the support, experience and insight that I have been exposed to throughout my tertiary education, I would have crumbled under the pressure in my work life. Instead, I have been able to do some of the best work I’ve ever done. I have been able to reshape content in a way that heightened the engagement levels of my clients, and develop fruitful and likely long-lasting creative relationships with SWINE contributors and department heads here at Swinburne.

Bailey, who graduated in 2017, echoes my sentiments. “As a journalist it’s imperative to have knowledge on media law, editing and sub-editing, research and interviewing, story structure, and, punctuation and grammar skills. While I undoubtedly learned new skills on the job, I wouldn’t have been able to improve on my skillset without a strong foundation. Having the degree is the theory and then getting the job is putting it into practice.”

Beyond these technical skills, the array of perspectives Bailey was exposed to as an Arts student proved invaluable in fleshing out her skillset – and her life. “I was also exposed to different ideas at university, which challenged my beliefs and helped me to gain a wider perspective on issues – sometimes reinforcing my ideas and other times helping me to change my mind,” she explained. 

“Encountering people of different races, religions, political opinions, physical abilities, experiences, sexualities and socio-economic status equipped me with the skills to communicate to people with empathy, openness and compassion – a vital skill in journalism and life.”

While Bailey acknowledged the importance of extra-curricular activities in strengthening one’s overall skillset, she finds it disappointing that Arts is often perceived as a “throwaway” degree. “I don’t see how anyone can lose out by being able to think critically about politics and ideas; being able to dissect media and detect persuasive language and messages, or knowing about cultural movements and thinking throughout history,” she said.

To all students reading this, current or otherwise: it is imperative that our peers have access to affordable, quality education – education that will deepen their thinking, advance their theoretical and practical knowledge of their chosen fields, and sharpen their ability to adapt in a business setting. Without this access, Australia will suffer. Let’s ensure that all students have the opportunity to realise their potential. Join us in calling on Minister for Education Dan Tehan to stop these reactionary, unnecessary fee reforms, by signing  the National Union of Students’ petition here.

Header image by Karen Martinez, courtesy of Unsplash.

 

textile recycling from your front door

Author: Millie Spencer

Photo supplied. 

Australian charities spend $13 million on waste management each year, sending 60,000 tonnes of unusable or unrecyclable donations to landfill, according to the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations. To combat this issue, premium socks and underwear subscription service Manrags and CouriersPlease have developed a textile recycling service that collects unwanted clothing from Australian households, before re-using and recycling them.

“There’s no reason for clothing, shoes and linen to end up in landfill,” Michael Elias, founder and managing director of Manrags said. As such, the two companies have “created a fast and seamless pick-up experience for households.” This initiative will be rolled out through the transportation company CouriersPlease returns service Boomerang, which allows customers to have their old textiles picked up from their door. “Together with CouriersPlease,” continued Elias, “we believe we can achieve this goal and take giant steps to eradicate textile waste in Australia.”

“We can help Manrags achieve their positive outcomes,” said CouriersPlease’s chief commercial officer Paul Roper. “We’re a transporter and they don’t have transportation, so I think it’s kind of a win-win really. I think increasingly what the COVID crisis has shown us, is strength and collaboration.”

Roper said that as a transporter, they know they are adding to the carbon footprint and are committed to improving their credentials in the green space. “We’re optimistic within three years by 2022, that we really could get to the stage where we can say that we’re a carbon neutral transporter.” Manrags sorts all clothing out, before passing on items that are fit for future use to charities. The items aren’t are then prepared for repurposing or recycling.

“One of our drivers will go to their client’s door,” Roper said, “pick up their used textiles, old clothes, old shoes, et cetera, and then come back to the depot [and] consolidate it. Then we’ll give it to Manrags then they’ll repurpose those textiles and reduce landfill.”

Could this initiative convince students to actively reduce their textile waste and consumer habits?

Due to his limited wardrobe, Swinburne Communication Design student Felix Mcphie is already in the habit of tempering textile waste, beside the odd pair of socks or undies. “I tend to wear around 2-3 outfits based purely on convenience,” he said.

Mcphie explained that he usually donates his clothes when they become too small. “The motivation usually comes after I’ve started a collection somewhere in the house and it starts to pile up a bit. I would buy upcycled clothes if I had more of a disposable income.”

Media and Communications student Belle* echoed Mcphie’s view, that the price tag is what stops her from buying clothes made from up-cycled fabrics. “I’m not entirely sure if this is because these materials are more costly to source/clean or if it’s simply because sustainable and ethical fashion is trending at the moment.”

“If the clothing is of a high-quality and worthy of the investment,” she added, “then this is a movement I would very much like to support.”

Over recent years, Belle said she has become more aware of the shocking amount of textile waste resulting from the trend-focused fashion industry. To temper this waste, she tries her best to “curate a conscious wardrobe wherever possible, only buying a couple of new items each season, instead of the fast-fashion model of [undergoing] an entire wardrobe haul and refreshing with the arrival of each new season.”

“I rarely throw out any clothes, apart from perhaps old socks,” she said. “If something has a small hole, my mum and nonna help me mend it, and if it’s something I simply don’t reach for in my wardrobe for quite some time, I wash and iron it and then donate it to one of my local charity op shops, with the hope that someone else can enjoy the item and give it a new life.”

Belle said she has never donated to a textile recycler before, she would consider doing so in the future.

*Name has been shortened.

Visit manrags.com.au to get involved. 

swinburne eases semester 1 impact on studies: students can include or exclude grades from final GPA

Author: Tina Tsironis

Photo courtesy of the Swinburne Student Union.

Students at Swinburne may request to exclude individual Semester 1 results from their overall GPAs, the Swinburne Student Union has announced. 

While the university has yet to officially communicate the new policy to students, Swinburne Student Union President Param Mahal today told the SWINE that students can request to exclude final marks for individual units after receiving their Semester 1 results. Mahal said that after weeks of lobbying by the SSU during an “extremely difficult semester”, the change will ensure that students “are not disadvantaged when competing with students from other universities for jobs or graduate scholarships.”

“The impact of this year may very well shape students’ career and life prospects,” Mahal said. “The SSU have a duty to protect the time and energy they are investing at Swinburne and this change does just that.” 

For Science and Secondary Education student Braden Grady, the SSU’s announcement comes as a welcome relief. 

“The opt-in/opt-out GPA policy has provided me with the opportunity to decide the impact that the coronavirus has on my education,” Grady said.

“As a science student, I have had no choice but to sacrifice my labs to protect the safety of the public, which is entirely understandable. However, not having a high level of interaction has affected my understanding of very complex concepts which would have been more easily grasped in person.”  

While Grady’s learning has been impacted due to COVID-19, he said that ironically, this semester has been his highest performing semester yet.

“I suspect this is due to the reduced travel time – 1.5 hours on a good day – and reduced social interaction, so this does not affect me directly,” Grady said. “However, I understand that the lack of contact has negatively affected many students and so I see the gold in this opportunity.”

Journalism student Alex Docherty sees the announcement differently. 

“If you ask me, I don’t feel it changes much,” Docherty said. “It can certainly give you some leeway and I’ve certainly relaxed my studies a bit over the past couple of weeks. But I still feel like I want the best grade possible.” 

But for Maisie Stokes, a first-year Bachelor of Nursing student, the policy allows her to regain a sense of control amid a period of instability. 

“I have been having a rough time with online learning at Swinburne, as I’m more of a hands-on learner, so this period of study has been my biggest academic challenge yet,” Stokes said.

“I am also prone to getting overwhelmed and having breakdowns so I think Swinburne creating this new policy is fantastic, especially for those of us struggling with mental health and academia. This new policy makes me feel more positive and in control of my learning, and I think it would be amazing if Swinburne kept this in place after things go back to normal. I know it would greatly impact people’s choices and how they study for the better.”

someone

Author: Rutvij Bidkar

Image by: Toa Heftiba

 

You don’t need the world,

when someone means the world.

 

Grappled by fear

in times tough and dark,

someone makes it easy

like a walk in the park.

 

Attacked by the bullets

and devoid of armor,

someone makes feel you safe

like a ship in the harbor.

 

Benumbed by the chaos,

by the confusion and clutter.

Someone brings the peace

by pulling down the shutter.

 

Suffocated by the gloom

fighting the odd and unfair,

someone lets you out

to breathe in the fresh air.

 

Burnt by words

which towards hurt steer,

someone soothes the soul

and brings back the cheer.

 

You don’t need the world,

when someone means the world.